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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 20, 2010

Youth shelter in Mānoa shuts down

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

A shelter for troubled youths at 3593 Loulu St. has closed because of state funding cuts. Nearby residents say some of the teens there caused problems in the neighborhood.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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A Mānoa shelter for troubled youth that has been the target of complaints from some neighbors has been closed because of state funding cuts, operator Hale Kipa said.

Hale Kipa, a nonprofit organization that provides social services and shelter for youths, on April 30 shut down its Loulu Street home that served clients of the state Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division, said Punky Pletan-Cross, Hale Kipa's president and CEO.

A separate Hale Kipa transitional facility in lower Mānoa, on Damon Street, had housed two teens who recently were charged with the May 1 beating death of cab driver Charlys Tang. That shelter remains open.

The Loulu Street group home was a short-term facility for younger youths in crisis and operated there for about 15 years. It had a capacity of five residents but lately only one or two were referred to the home, said state Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

"CAMHD (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division) made a decision based on utilization and fiscal constraints to close the program (at Loulu)," Pletan-Cross said. "The reality is CAMHD programs are closing all over the state over the past year."

He said other Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division programs that have closed include two on the Big Island run by Marimed Foundation, two group homes on Kaua'i run by Hale 'Opio and a group home operated by Child and Family Service, he said.

Some Loulu Street neighbors say there were frequent problems at the site, including tantrums by the teens, fights, assaults on adult supervisors and vandalism.

Carl Hefner, who has lived across the street from the home for seven years, said the teenagers would go into people's yards and even onto their roofs.

The supervisors there were college students who could not seem to control the youths, he said.

"Most of the neighbors felt it was a very scary house," Hefner said. "Young children who lived in the neighborhood were told not to pass by. Seniors were afraid to walk their dogs."

Pletan-Cross said Hale Kipa tried to find a solution to satisfy the neighbors. "We feel we responded to every question that was raised," he said.

In the end the state's financial crisis played a part in closing the site.

Okubo said, "Part of the issue was perhaps that wasn't someplace that we really needed to keep open because there wasn't a whole lot of placement there.

"When we evaluated the program we tried to look objectively at the services they were providing and whether it fit into the needs our department had in placing individuals," Okubo said. "The community issues really didn't play into our decision to end the contract. It was more a decision based on fiscal requirements because we've lost some of our funding."